BEST OF THE WEB: The Silicon Valley geeks leaving gadgets behind

Silicon Valley is the home of the gadget. After all, the place is named after the production of a microprocessor – the area is the hub of most of the world’s innovation in technology hardware and services.

And yet there are a growing number of entrepreneurs in the Valley who are leaving their gadgets behind for good.

The concern is that constant stimulation from all these different gadgets is actually hurting productivity. And people are starting to notice that it’s a problem.

Now, this is a warning that has been repeated time and time again – but not from the gadget gurus themselves.

“We’re done with this honeymoon phase and now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’” Soren Gordhamer, who organizes Wisdom 2.0, told The New York Times. “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There’s no blame. But there is a turning of the page.”

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference, various leaders from Facebook, Twitter and other key tech companies all heard from experts in restful and relaxation techniques. “In at least one session, they debated whether technology firms had a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time or distract them,” the publication notes.

And while some founders disagree there’s actually a problem – such as Zynga co-founder Eric Schiermeyer – former Twitter employee Michelle Gale is noticing a change.

Gale says she regularly told executives and business leaders their gadgets were more addictive than they thought.

“They said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’ Or, ‘I guess I knew that but I don’t know what to do about it,’” she says.

It’s a fascinating story – and one that any gadget fan needs to take in.

Apple – it’s all about the timing

Apple released some disappointing sales figures this week. Although it made $US8.8 billion in profit off $US35 billion in revenue, there was still an expectation among Wall Street analysts that this growth would be much higher.

But as MG Siegler on TechCrunch points out, that’s not necessarily fair. While he says Apple’s results were indeed disappointing from a certain point of view, there’s also the issue of timing.

Namely, Apple last year put its iPhone release date in the September announcement. This caused a shake-up in the calendar, and has caused Apple’s finances to appear weak when in fact they’re just loaded towards a certain part of the year.

“Apple missed this past quarter, but the true shock could come if they miss next quarter as well. The guidance Apple gave indicates they’re thinking small (well, for them — it’s all relative, remember) as they prepare for a ‘fall transition’.”

“Apple may well hit/beat their numbers next quarter, or they may not. Regardless, they’ll likely be fairly depressed again. But that’s only because everything is aligning for a mega Q1 holiday quarter. Again.”

Everyone knows a new iPhone is coming, so customers may just be holding out. And that’s okay, but as Siegler says, there could be a need to scatter the release schedule over the year.

“Still, from a purely fiscal perspective, it may be wise to vary their release formula. That would keep Wall Street on its toes and keep analysts off-balance. But something tells me that Apple cares more about releasing products on their own schedule, when they’re ready, and less about what Wall Street thinks short-term.”

Is Google to blame for all those infographics?

One of the more popular trends of current design is the “infographic”, where a designer takes a bunch of information and then distils it into an easy-to-ready format based on graphics and visual aids.

They’re very common, if you spend any time on the internet at all. But this latest piece on The Atlantic points out that many of them are filled with inaccurate information and are used by sites to drive traffic.

But what’s even more interesting is that Google may be considering changing its algorithm to deal with the problem.

The piece quotes Google webspam team leader Matt Cutts, who says: “I would not be surprised if at some point in the future we did not start to discount these infographic-type links to a degree.”

If you’re using infographics, then watch out – Google may be coming for you.


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